Charge-at-home PHEVs to be produced in Korea
Korea’s leading car manufacturers, Hyundai and Kia Motors, will likely introduce plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) models for its flagship midsize sedans Sonata and K5 next year to cater to customers seeking eco-friendly models.
In a meeting with reporters at the company’s Namyang R&D center in Hwaseong, southern Gyeonggi, the companies said they will start producing PHEVs early next year, mostly with local parts.
A PHEV is similar to a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV), but it has a larger battery that is charged by the vehicle’s gasoline engine and by plugging it into a standard 110V electrical outlet. PHEVs can be charged at home, which is expected to be a big attraction for Korean customers who hesitate to buy HEVs, which need hard-to-find charging stations.
The PHEV also offers relatively higher fuel efficiency compared to an HEV.
The country’s two auto giants are following the world’s trend because the vehicles that stole the show at the Paris Motor Show earlier this month were PHEVs. Volkswagen’s Passat GTE provides an average fuel economy of 62.5 kilometers per liter (147 miles per gallon) and Renault’s concept car EOLAB said it handles 100 kilometers per liter.
Mercedes-Benz said its S500 PIH has a maximum speed of 140 kilometers per hour (87 miles per hour) when it runs in electric mode.
Hyundai Motors said it will start selling Sonata PHEVs early next year and the price for the vehicle will be similar to Sonata Hybrid models that are being sold between 30.3 million won ($28,300) and 33.4 million won. Kia Motors said it will likely start selling K5 PHEVs starting in 2015.
“The schedule for the K5 PHEV will be impacted by the schedule for the introduction of the K5 sedan fully upgraded model,” a spokesman of Hyundai Motor said.
“Since many foreign automakers started introducing PHEVs, Hyundai and Kia had to follow the trend,” said Prof. Ko Kwang-ho from Ajou Motor College. “I think PHEVs can solve problems that made drivers decide against buying HEVs, like a dearth of charging stations.”
BY KWON SANG-SOO [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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